The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and Scottish Outdoor Access Code provide for unrestricted responsible access to most parts of the Scottish countryside, whilst for England and Wales the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2005 provides much improved access. Visitors to bothies are nevertheless particularly asked to respect agreements between the Association and bothy owners, many of which include requests for hill goers to show discretion regarding access to a bothy, or to the surrounding hills at certain times of the year. These agreements are the basis upon which the bothies are made available for public use. Ignoring the needs of the the people who earn their living from the land places a strain on our relations with the bothy owners and bothies have in the past been withdrawn from the care of the Association and closed.
Many people earn their living from farming, hunting, shooting and fishing, as well as forestry. Most of the bothies we look after are on sporting estates, on working farms, or in commercial forests. One is on Ministry of Defence land. There are times of the year when landowners appreciate, or in some circumstances require, more than ordinary discrimination and cooperation on the part of visitors. The most frequent request applies during the stag stalking season in Scotland, between August and October. Some estates remain wary of visitors through the hind cull between November and February. Often access to the hills is a concern, but the bothy remains open and where a right of way exists that remains open all the time.
No estate stalks every hillside every day, so it is a good idea to talk to the estate to see if a route can be agreed that won’t put the livelihood of the estate in jeopardy.
Another consideration is lambing, which usually lasts for about a month, but can be anytime between March and May depending on which location you visit.
Now and again access will be restricted because of forestry operations., This is primarily connected to the use of heavy machinery. Sadly, bothies have to be closed from time to time to discourage undesirable elements from abusing the privilege of access to them. This kind of temporary closure is rare. Finally, a bothy may be closed by maintenance work. If the roof is being replaced, or some other major work is being carried out, the bothy will probably be uninhabitable, as well as dangerous.
Our commitment is to maintain bothies as open shelters, and we endeavour to do this as far as is practicable.
© Copyright Mountain Bothies Association, Edenbank House, 22 Crossgate, Cupar, Fife, KY15 5HW
Mountain Bothies Association is a charity registered in Scotland, no. SC008685 and a company limited by guarantee and registered in Scotland, no. SC191425